But Wait, There’s More!

I know how just about everyone loves recaps of State of the Union addresses, so once again this year I thought I’d offer a few points about it, in no particular order:

  • Where last year the recurring theme of the President’s address was his intention to circumvent a (depending who you ask) regrettably gridlocked Congress through executive action, which to many represented a glaring overextension of his lawful authority, this year’s theme centered on dragging Congress along with him this time to further ensconse federal government into ever greater tracts of civil life.
  • As a condition of his elections, he stated that “we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation”. Several times tonight, in what I have to assume eludes to this “new foundation”, he referenced a “middle class economy”. A rather bizarre formulation to make, as if the middle class somehow operates in some perverse, insulated sense that neither influences or is influenced by others. Certainly we’ve all heard of a middle class itself, but to suggest that it functions substantively different from other groups, or that it can be targeted with special consideration without affecting anyone else not deemed “middle” class, is odd.
  • Historical examples of long in the tooth governments willfully restraining its footprint over the course of its existence are precious few, and if the 2015 State of the Union becomes Congressional Bill No. 3485 becomes law, we will firmly be counted among the rule, instead of the exception. For example, Obama wants to: force companies to provide paid sick leave; raise the minimum wage; and provide two years of community college at no cost to the student.

All of which would require members of Congress to grace the airways to offer us the usual “think about the children” platitudes; for the President to tell Jon Stewart or whomever mouthpiece of mainstream statism that these issues couldn’t possibly be resolved without him; and, just so the judicial branch can share the limelight, hand down a decision that getting a $15 an hour minimum wage job while attending college at no cost and taking Monday off from work to sleep off a hangover and get paid for it is an undeniable right that exudes from emanations and penumbras of the Constitution.

Well, I’m tired of having to hear from these people every day. Government is in my job, my wallet, my education, and is convinced that my existence wholly depends on them being more so.

One of those apparently unobtainable fantasies of mine is one where I can go a week without hearing of a new way that the swelling landfill of government has injected itself into my life. Rather than hear that we need to get Washington “working again”, why not try sitting a few plays out? Let the plebes try self-governance for a while.

Tonight, I kept expecting to hear “but wait, there’s more!”

  • To expand on his “bold” plan to offer “free” community college to students, his proposal, without sweating too many details, calls for spending roughly $60 billion over 10 years to provide students, who have been “priced out” of higher education due to spiraling costs, with community college for free.

Plenty of people will focus on the cost on this idea, while others will address how its paid for. For the last week, I’ve only been able to consider the standards by which students are able to continue receiving their subsidy.

President Obama has stated that this isn’t a “free ride”, but that students must “keep their grades up”. Keeping the grades up under his proposal translates to a 2.5 grade point average–a C+ –with a half-time course load.

When I was in junior college, admission to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest community college honor society in the U.S., was contingent upon maintaining a 3.2 GPA at full-time credit hours. When I transferred to a four-year university, which I assume is the end game of most people, admission to the Dean’s List meant getting a 3.5 GPA.

If we accept as rote that PBK or the Dean’s List is an objective measure of academic achievement, President Obama’s plan isn’t so much taxpayer subsidy of college as it is a subsidy of mediocrity. While I don’t accept his proposal on principle–why am I liable for anyone’s higher education but my own?–if you were to go ahead and pass such legislation, why should the taxpayer accept middling grades as reward for their investment?

In 21st century American congresses, multi-billion dollar programs funding this or that special interest are a dime a dozen, but this tripe is particularly concerning because in other instances, Congress at least pretends that we’re getting something for it. I expect grade schoolers to be able to take 100- and 200-level courses half-time and able to perform better than a C+ average. Financial considerations aside, an education plan that accepts pedestrian as a matter of policy is not serious.

If a society wants a dynamic economy, driven by exceptional innovators, what can we expect by subsidizing the average? Answer: you get what you pay for.

  • Obama and his administration has resorted to labeling recent worldwide terror as “violent” extremism, as opposed to “Islamist”. Not overly surprising, as this is the same administration that has previously called the War on Terror “overseas contingency operations”, the Ft. Hood shooting as “workplace violence”, and acts of terror “man-caused disasters”. I, for one, would appreciate the specificity, as there’s only one ideology operating around the world that has a corner on the market for extremism right now. Obama and his court eunuchs are fooling approximately no one by pretending otherwise.

A question: does his absence from the free speech rally in France after the Islamist-driven terror attacks there coincide with his seeming inability to address radical Islam honestly?

  • One quote in particular stood out: “Americans care about civil liberties”. Absolutely they do. I’m just not sure his administration does, his being the same administration wherein the FBI states that search warrants aren’t necessary to use “stingrays”–decoy cell towers that capture locations and identities of mobile phone users and can intercept calls and texts–in public places. Despite a unanimous Supreme Court decision last year holding that similar searches of cell phones incident to arrest are unconstitutional without a warrant, this president speaks of civil liberties while tolerating governmental dragnet searches. Spare me.
  • In one of his final emotional pleas, he urged members of Congress to abandon the same ol’ tired politics that pits them against each other, and embrace a “new politics”, where apparently they sit in group circles and take bong rips while Biden sits by strumming Wonderwall. To show his dedication to this precept, about five minutes later, after Republicans clapped at the knowledge that Obama wasn’t running anymore campaigns, he quipped off the cuff that he knows this “because [he] won both of them”.

Well, he tried. Everybody now: “You’re my wonderwall…”

“Our debt stands at $17.3 trillion. Any takers for its position one year from now?”

Today, it stands at $18.09 trillion. The more things change…

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About Michael Haugen

Michael Haugen is a full-spectrum conservative and recent graduate from Eastern Washington University (BS Biology). His main interests in politics and public policy center around health care, education and tax reform. He'll be returning to EWU in 2014 to complete a Master's degree in Public Administration. Follow him on Twitter: @HaugenTRA

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